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Homegrown bee group spreading wings (commentary)


Submitted By Ky Plaskon

If your yard is adopted by bees, that’s a privilege according to Bee Friendly Reno. This volunteer group employs a “pollinator posse” that, for a second year, is repurposing hundreds of campaign yard signs, painting them yellow and printing “Bee Friendly” on them.

The group distributes the signs in an effort to educate residents to take some small steps to attract more bees.

Melissa Gilbert, a former teacher, is the leader. She started Bee Friendly Reno after her mother started a campaign to stop school district employees from spraying pesticides and weed control sprays. “It’s criminal,” she said because it is exposing children and pollinators to dangerous chemicals.

Yard-keepers who display a Bee Friendly sign, declare to the world that they will help bees by not spraying pesticides.

What do bees want? They want you to do nothing. Let your yard go wild, revel in the beauty of the dandelions for instance.

Here is the Bee Friendly pledge.

BEE CLEAN: I will not use chemical pesticides.
BEE COOL: I will leave water out for pollinators.
BEE HELPFUL: I will mow less to allow for lawn flowers to bloom.
BEE HEALTHY: I will plant organic pollinator plants where ever I can. 
BEE CONNECTED: I will talk to neighbors about the importance of pollinators.

There is no question that lots of people love these popular pollinators. Why? They are busy, they make honey, they cooperate, dance, are social, and best of all, they make putting certain foods in our mouths possible.

Bee Friendly Reno is also providing an opportunity to improve the reputation of other pollinators including flies, bats, moths, and even mice. A yard full of bats, moths, flies, bees, and mice is a healthy yard because they are a sign of nutrients that are needed to grow food. That is a thing of beauty.

So, if you have an overgrown yard in your neighborhood with one of the bright yellow “Bee Friendly” signs, say “thank you,” and compliment them on the beauty of supporting a healthy ecosystem. Yard signs are still available: https://www.renofoodsystems.org/beefriendlyreno

This time of year, beekeepers are getting daily calls about swarms of bees. I am registered with Washoe County to respond to these calls. People are often in a frenzy as if a scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” is about to unfold. It never does. Just leave the bees alone and they go away.

If the bees take up residence in an unwanted place, they probably won’t bother you, and exterminating them is bad for many reasons. The honeycomb they leave behind will drip and attract ants forever.

Consider changing your mindset. Embrace the idea that a wild bee colony has adopted you as their keeper. Just don’t try to embrace a bee. They don’t like hugs.

Ky Plaskon is a beekeeper and president of the Truckee Meadows Bicycle Alliance, BikeWashoe.org.

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